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Burn the Bridges

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Hillary bit her lips hard, drawing blood. She closed her eyes, rubbing her temples. Impeachment! How dare they even utter the word? She had worked on an impeachment trial for God’s sake. She knew when there should be an impeachment and this was nothing like that.

Hillary had always considered herself more left than Bill. But she always tried to keep a bipartisan approach to issues. Growing up with a conservative father had taught her that. When Bill first got elected back in Arkansas, she had seen how politicians got blinded by partisian politics. And it became worse when he got elected President. But this was a new low, even for the right wingers. Impeaching a President, just because you don’t like him? She knew all that cry about Bill’s lying was just a cover. The Republicans had been after Bill ever since he got elected and Bill had never cowered an inch to their bluster. Now they saw the perfect opportunity for payback!

She was in her lawyer mode. She couldn’t think of Bill as her husband. She wasn’t ready for that yet. She hated the pity she saw in people’s eyes for her. She rarely stepped out of the residence. Its been days since she stepped into her First Lady’s office. Sometimes, when she would feel to go to the pool, she’d ask one of the trusted staffs to make sure that the coast was clear.

She stepped out of the bedroom heading for Bill’s study. Her heart started beating faster. They hadn’t exchanged a single word since his revelation to her that night. They had attended 3 events since. But the arrangements had been made through notes via personal aides. She remembered her skin burning when Bill would touch her at the event. In those moments she had hated him with a wrath she didn’t know she had.

So now as she raised her knuckles to knock in the door, her throat felt dry.

Bill clenched his jaw as he saw blood trickle from his palm. He remembered all those times he’d said to folks that he had a high pain threshold. He was almost proud about it. But now he would give anything up to feel the pain as he had hit the washroom mirror, the glass slicing through his palm. Anything to numb the emotional pain.

He had known this would have happened. He had felt it in his gut. The Republicans wanted nothing more than to impeach him. And he had just handed that opportunity to them on a plate.

Bill felt the tears prickle his eyes. He really didn’t give a damn about all of this anymore. It was bad enough to throw all that he worked for so hard since his boyhood, down the drain. But he couldn’t take Hillary’s silent treatment anymore. That was the thing about Hillary. She was not only his wife, lover and mother of his child. She was his best friend, the other half of his soul. He was so lost without her.

He remembered all the other times he had let her down. There had been screaming, swearing and objects flying. But this time it was different. Since that night Hillary had absolutely shut him out. She would walk right past him without even a tick in her jaw. He remembered holding her hand at the gala. Those small fingers that had so perfectly fit into his. At that moment, he had thought he couldn’t love her more.

Bill knew she was considering divorce. Every day after coming back from the Oval, he’d look through the calls Hillary had made through the day. For those brief moments everyday, he’d be paralysed with the fear of a lawyer’s name popping up in the record.

A drop of blood fell on his sole from his palm. He looked down. God, it was a mess. A pool of blood had collected over the shattered glass. His hand was bleeding profusely now. He reached for a bathroom towel and that’s when he heard the knock.

Hillary stood with her back ramrod straight. The door opened, Bill leaning out to see who it was. She could see the exact moment he identified her. His jaw slacked, and his eyes pierced into hers. Seconds ticked by.

Hillary cleared her throat. “Hillary”, Bill rasped. “Come in.”

Hillary’s name felt foreign on his lips. Even though he spent the better half of the day thinking about her, it had been a long time since he had said her name out loud. Bill closed his eyes, hoping this wasn’t a dream.

Bill was wearing a white polo shirt over khakis. It was a weekend. Even as she was staring at him, she could sense something was wrong. A disturbing image was forming at the periphery of her vision. She looked down to his hands and gasped. He was clutching a white towel, which had turned red. “Jesus, Bill!”

Bill frowned and looked down. He had almost forgotten about it. “Its nothing, just a scratch.” “This is not what a scratch looks like,” she said walking towards the washroom. She took in the broken mirror and the mess of glass and blood on the white tiles. “Really Bill, this is juvenile. Now on top of all the lawyer bills you have to pay, just add this to the list.”

She has come to me to ask for a divorce, Bill thought. He squeezed his fists feeling the blood seeping out. Only three people had loved him unconditionally in his adult life. But now here he was- his Mom was dead, and he had thrown away the precious gift of Hillary and Chelsea’s love. There was not a single living soul in the world right now who loved him.  His eyes brimmed up with tears.

She was taken aback by the venom in her voice. She turned and found him, standing by the door still looking at her. There was this helpless looking his eyes that cut straight to her heart. She remembered the last time she had seen this look on his face.  All those years ago when this Viking like Yale law student had bared his soul to her about his childhood abuses. For the first time she noticed how old Bill looked. His hair was completely gray, many of them turning white. The lines around his face had become more deeply etched and his blue eyes had definitely lost some of its shine. She remembered the 25 year old boy with thick dark curls and sparkling blue eyes, lying on the grass beside her, and promising her the moon and stars.

Hillary moved up to him. “I’m sorry. That was a cruel thing to say. Here let me have a look”, she said softly reaching for his wounded hand. “You want a divorce right?” The words cut through her like a knife. She looked up at him and stared. The fact that she couldn’t  immediately deny it almost broke her heart.

“Hillary?” Bill asked again gently. “I don’t know Bill. I just don’t know what I want anymore.” Bill clasped her hands tighter. “Let’s get your cut fixed up,” she said changing the topic. She turned around and went to the medicine cabinet.

“That’s not what I’m here for today, Bill. We have to do something about the impeachment.””I talked to Al. Told him I’m there for whatever he needs.”

Hillary’s mind jerked to a stop. “What the hell are you talking about?” “If things go according to schedule, I’ll be out of office in a month. Al needs to gear up his game.”

Hillary walked over from the cabinet to him carrying the medical supplies. “William, are you telling me you aren’t going to contest the impeachment?””Hillary, I.. I don’t care anymore. Its over.”

Hillary stared at him. So this is what a defeated Bill Clinton looks like, she mused. She remembered the last time Bill had been so defeated. It was when he had lost the gubernatorial race in ’80. She sighed. In spite of all her self doubt for decades, it was true. Bill couldn’t function without her. Hence this nonsense.

As she started dabbing his hands with iodine, she spoke slowly and sternly. “Bill you have publicly humiliated me in an unimaginable way. I can’t stand all this pity. But you know what I can’t stand more? If I realize I’ve married a quitter. You know as well as I do that this impeachment is not worth a dead rat’s ass. And I’ll be damned if I let the Republicans unconstitutionally remove a perfectly worthy President from office over this!”

She was out of breath, her ears and cheeks had turned red. Bill thought he should have known. He should have guessed that Hillary was not going to give in to the Republicans. She saw her duty to the country above everything else and had a tremendous respect for the government. God, she never failed to surprise him and at that moment, he swore he fell in a little bit more in love with her.

“Would you give it to me?” she said as she wrapped the gauze over his hand.”What?” “The divorce. If I file it would you give it to me?”

“I set you free Hillary. I set you free from this pattern of crash and burn. Before you said yes, you had refused my proposal twice. The world was sending me signs. But no, I was too selfish. I had to had you for myself. I chained you to me and took us both down. I’m so sorry Hillary, I.. really am,” his voice cracked.

Hillary turned quickly away, not wanting to him to see her tears. God, this had really taken the wind out of Bill. Right then she knew she didn’t doubt Bill’s love for her anymore. “Well that is not a very smart thing to say if you plan on getting off the couch sometime this century.”

“Hillary, does..” “Don’t push it William. We’ll reach there when the bridges burn,” Hillary said quietly. “I’ll be at my East Wing office tomorrow. Send me a list of lawyers you think are fit to take this on. We need to build a game plan.”

We. She said we. A flicker of hope lit up in Bill’s chest.

As she pulled open the door, she turned back. “Promise me you won’t try to inflict self harm again Bill. Promise me.” Her voice trembled. “I give you my word,” and that was the last thing Hillary heard as she stepped out of the study.

Bill sat on the couch, crossed his legs and found a smile forming at his lips. Leave it to the Republicans to be the only one to be able to make him look good to Hillary.